HOUSE MUSIC PART 1
Influences and precursors
One of the main influences of the house was disco; house music has been defined as a genre which “…picked up where disco left off in the late 1970’s.” Like disco DJs, house DJs used a “slow mix” to “lin[k] records together” into a mix.[
In the post-disco club culture during the early 1980s, DJs from the gay scene made their tracks “less pop-oriented,” with a more mechanical, repetitive beat and deeper basslines, and many tracks were made without vocals, or with wordless melodies.
Disco became so popular by the late 1970s that record companies pushed even non-disco artists (R&B bands, for example) to produce disco songs. When the backlash against disco started, known as “Disco sucks” dance music went from being produced by major label studios to being created by DJs in the underground club scene.
While disco was associated with lush orchestration, with string orchestra, flutes and horn sections, various disco songs incorporated sounds produced with synthesizers and electronic drum machines, and some compositions were entirely electronic;
examples include Italian composer Giorgio Moroder‘s late 1970s productions such as Donna Summer‘s hit single “I Feel Love” from 1977, Cerrone‘s “Supernature” (1977), Yellow Magic Orchestra‘s synth-disco-pop productions from Yellow Magic Orchestra (1978) or Solid State Survivor (1979), and several early 1980s productions by Hi-NRG groups like Lime, Trans-X and Bobby O.
Also important for the development of house were audio mixing and editing techniques earlier explored by disco, garage music and post-disco DJs, record producers, and audio engineers such as Walter Gibbons, Tom Moulton, Jim Burgess, Larry Levan, M & M, and others.
While most post-disco disc jockeys primarily stuck to playing their conventional ensemble and playlist of dance records, Frankie Knuckles and Ron Hardy, two influential DJs of house music, were known for their unusual and non-mainstream playlists and mixing.
Knuckles was influenced by and worked with New York City club Paradise Garage resident Larry Levan. Knuckles, often credited as “the Godfather of House” and resident DJ at the Warehouse from 1977 to 1982, worked primarily with early disco music with a hint of new and different music (whether it was post-punk or post-disco).
Knuckles started out as a disco DJ, but when he moved from New York City to Chicago, he changed from the typical disco mixing style of playing records one after another; instead, he mixed different songs together, including Philadelphia soul, New York club tracks, and Euro disco.
As well, he explored adding a drum machine and a reel-to-reel tape player so he could create new tracks, often with a boosted deep register and faster tempos.
Ron Hardy produced unconventional DIY mixtapes which he later played straight-on in the successor of the Warehouse, the Music Box (reopened and renamed in 1983 after Knuckles left). Like Frankie Knuckles, Hardy “combined certain sounds, remixing tracks with added synths and drum machines”, all “refracted through the futurist lens of European music.”
Marshall Jefferson, who would later appear with the 1986 house classic “Move Your Body (The House Music Anthem)” (originally released on Trax Records), describes how he got involved in house music after hearing Ron Hardy’s music in the Music Box:
“I wasn’t even into dance music before I went to the Music Box […]. I was into rock and roll. We would get drunk and listen to rock and roll. We didn’t give a fuck, we were like ‘Disco Sucks!‘ and all that. I hated dance music ‘cos I couldn’t dance. I thought dance music was kind of wimpy, until I heard it at like Music Box volume.”
Rachel Cain, better known as Screamin Rachael, co-founder of the highly influential house label Trax Records, was previously involved in the burgeoning punk scene.
Cain cites industrial music (another genre pioneered in Chicago) and post-punk record store Wax Trax! Records (later a record label) as an important connection between the ever-changing underground sounds of Chicago.
The electronic instrumentation and minimal arrangement of Charanjit Singh‘s Synthesizing: Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat (1982), an album of Indian ragas performed in a disco style, anticipated the sounds of acid house music, but it is not known to have had any influence on the genre prior to the album’s rediscovery in the 21st century.
According to Hillegonda C. Rietveld, “elements of hip hop and rap can be found in contemporary house tracks”, with hop hop acting as an “accent or inflection” that is inserted into the house sound.
The constant bass drum in house music may have arisen from DJs experimenting with adding drum machines to their live mixes at clubs, underneath the records they were playingEarly history
Chicago house scene In the early 1980s, Chicago radio jocks Hot Mix 5 from WBMX radio station (among them Farley “Jackmaster” Funk), and club DJs Ron Hardy and Frankie Knuckles played a range of styles of dance music,
including older disco records (mostly Philly disco and Salsoul tracks), electro-funk tracks by artists such as Afrika Bambaataa, newer Italo disco, Arthur Baker, and John Robie, and electronic pop.
Some DJs made and played their own edits of their favorite songs on reel-to-reel tape, and sometimes mixed in electronic effects, drum machines, synthesizers and other rhythmic electronic instrumentation.
The hypnotic electronic dance song “On and On”, produced in 1984 by Chicago DJ Jesse Saunders and co-written by Vince Lawrence, had typical elements of the early house sound, such as the Roland TB-303 bass synthesizer and minimal vocals as well as a Roland TR-808 drum machine and a Korg Poly-61 synthesizer. It also utilized the bassline from Player One’s disco record “Space Invaders” (1979).
“On and On” is sometimes cited as the ‘first house record’, even though it was a remake of a Disco Bootleg “On and On” by Florida producer Mach. Other examples from around that time, such as J.M. Silk‘s “Music is the Key” (1985), have also been cited to be the first house tracks. Starting in 1985 and 1986, more and more Chicago
DJs began producing and releasing original compositions these compositions used newly affordable electronic instruments and enhanced styles of disco and other dance music they already favored. These homegrown productions were played on Chicago radio stations and in local clubs catering mainly to Black, Hispanic, and gay audiences.
By 1985, house music encompassed these locally produced recordings. Subgenres of house, including deep house and acid house, quickly emerged and gained traction.
Deep house‘s origins can be traced to Chicago producer Mr Fingers‘s relatively jazzy, soulful recordings “Mystery of Love” (1985) and “Can You Feel It?” (1986).According to author Richie Unterberger, it moved house music away from its “posthuman tendencies back towards the lush” soulful sound of early disco music.
Acid house, a rougher and more abstract subgenre, arose from Chicago artists’ experiments with the squelchy sounds of the Roland TB-303 bass synthesizer that define the genre. Its origin on vinyl is generally cited as Phuture‘s “Acid Tracks” (Trax Records, 1987). Phuture, a group founded by Nathan “DJ Pierre” Jones, Earl “Spanky” Smith Jr., and Herbert “Herb J” Jackson, is credited with having been the firs to use the TB-303 in the house music context.
Acid Tracks” was recorded to tape and played by DJ Ron Hardy at the Music Box supposedly already in 1985. Hardy once played it four times over the course of an evening until the crowd responded favorably.
Club play of house tracks by pioneering Chicago DJs such as Ron Hardy and Lil Louis, local dance music record shops such as Importes Etc., State Street Records, Loop Records, Gramaphone Records and the popular Hot Mix 5 shows on radio station WBMX-FM helped popularize house music in Chicago.
Later, visiting DJs and producers from Detroit fell into the genre. Trax Records and DJ International Records, Chicago labels with wider distribution, helped popularize house music inside and outside of Chicago.
h2>Origins of the term “house”
One 2009 book states the name house music originated from a Chicago club called the Warehouse, which existed from 1977 to 1983. Clubbers to the Warehouse were primarily black, who came to dance to music played by the club’s resident DJ Frankie Knuckles, who fans refer to as the “godfather of house”.
Frankie began the trend of splicing together different records when he found that the records he had weren’t long enough to satisfy his audience of dancers.
After the Warehouse closed in 1983, the crowds went to Knuckles’ new club, The Power Plant, while the club was renamed into Music Box with Ron Hardy being resident DJ.
In the Channel 4 documentary Pump Up The Volume, Knuckles remarks that the first time he heard the term “house music” was upon seeing “we play house music” on a sign in the window of a bar on Chicago’s South Side. One of the people in the car with him joked, “you know that’s the kind of music you play down at the Warehouse!”.
South-Side Chicago DJ Leonard “Remix” Rroy, in self-published statements, claims he put such a sign in a tavern window because it was where he played music that one might find in one’s home; in his case, it referred to his mother’s soul and disco records, which he worked into his sets.
The documentary also explored how house music was something that anyone could do. Mostly the documentary looks at some of the DJs from that genre, and how they stumbled into the music.
Farley “Jackmaster” Funk was quoted as saying “In 1982, I was DJing at a club called The Playground and there was this kid named Leonard ‘Remix’ Rroy who was a DJ at a rival club called The Rink.
He came over to my club one night, and into the DJ booth and said to me, ‘I’ve got the gimmick that’s gonna take all the people out of your club and into mine – it’s called House music.’ Now, where he got that name from or what made him think of it I don’t know, so the answer lies with him.”
Chip E.‘s 1985 recording “It’s House” may also have helped to define this new form of electronic music.
However, Chip E. himself lends credence to the Knuckles association, claiming the name came from methods of labeling records at the Importer's Etc. record store, where he worked in the early 1980s:
bins of music that DJ Knuckles played at the Warehouse nightclub were labeled in the store “As Heard At The Warehouse”, which was shortened to simply “House”. Patrons later asked for new music for the bins, which Chip E. implies was a demand the shop tried to meet by stocking newer local club hits.
In a 1986 interview, when Rocky Jones, the club DJ who ran the D.J. International record label, was asked about the “house” moniker, he did not mention Importers, Etc., Frankie Knuckles, or the Warehouse by name. However, he agreed that “house” was a regional catch-all term for dance music, and that it was once synonymous with older disco music before it became a way to refer to “new” dance music.Social and political aspects
Early house lyrics contained positive, uplifting messages for all people, from every different walk of life but spoke especially to those who were considered to be outsiders, especially African-Americans, Latinos, and the gay subculture.
As well, house music lyrics encouraged unity and called for people of all ethnic groups and backgrounds to come together. The house music dance scene was one of the most integrated and progressive spaces in the 1980s; gays, blacks, and other minority groups were able to dance together in a positive environment.
House music DJs aimed to create a “dream world of emotions” with “stories, keywords and sounds”, which helped to “glue” communities together. Many house tracks encourage the audience to “release yourself” or “let yourself go”, which is further encouraged by the continuous dancing,
“incessant beat”, and use of club drugs, which can create a trance-like effect on dancers. Frankie Knuckles once said that the Warehouse club in Chicago was like “church for people who have fallen from grace”.
House record producer Marshall Jefferson compared it to “old-time religion in the way that people just get happy and screamin'”.The role of a house DJ has been compared to a “secular type of priest”.
Some house lyrics contained messages calling for equality, unity and freedom of expression beyond racial or sexual differences (e.g. “Can You Feel It” by Fingers Inc., 1987, or “Follow Me” by Aly-Us, 1992).
However, not all house music songs had vocals, and in many cases, the vocals were quite meaningless, as the most important element in house was the beat and rhythm. Later on in the 1990s, but autonomous from the Chicago scene, the idea of Peace, Love, Unity & Respect (PLUR) became a widespread set of principles for the rave culture which developed out of house
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